A
 
Web www.artsmart.co.za
A R T S M A R T
arts news from kwazulu-natal

music
www.artsmart.co.za
enquiries@artsmart.co.za
 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
 

NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

THE WIZ (article first published : 2006-07-16)

Who would have thought that the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Lyman Frank Baum written in 1900, would spawn that all-time classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz which starred the unforgettable Judy Garland as well as the musically updated The Wiz, a dazzling, lively mixture of rock, gospel and soul, seen at the Playhouse, Durban in January 1996, and the very recent smash hit Wicked which I saw on Broadway, New York, in November 2004 and I am sure is still running as I was extremely lucky to get a seat then.

This last show is a brilliant musical adaptation based on what was in the original book but was left out of the subsequent film and rock musical. It explains how the lion lost his courage, the tin man his heart and the scarecrow his brain as well as the enmity between the Good Witch of the North and the Wicked Witch of the West (who were sisters) and why the latter wants Dorothy's shoes. The characters and story line of The Wiz are largely faithful to the 1939 film version of the story.

The Wiz, the sixth July school vacation venture of the Unilever Young Performers, following on Curtain Up, One Voice, Grease, Oliver and Fiddler of the Roof is an excellent choice as it is ideally suited to a young cast and it brings the classic tale of The Wizard of Oz to a new generation.

The story tells the classic tale of how Dorothy (Sophie Baskin) and her pet dog Toto (Sazi Nzama) are whisked off in their home in Kansas during a tornado to Oz where the house falls on Evvamene, the Wicked Witch of the East (Courtney Lennon), killing her and liberating the Munchkins from her cruel rule. For Dorothy to get back home she is advised by Addaperle, the Good Witch of the North (Amy Saville), to follow the yellow brick road to The Wiz (Babuyile Shabalala) in the Emerald City.

On the way she meets Scarecrow (Cavin Sewell) who desperately wants a brain, Tin Man (Bradley Marshall) who needs a heart and whose song Slide Some Oil to Me was brilliant, and Lion (Bandhile Hlope) who lacks much desired courage. They are eventually admitted to see the wizard by The Gatekeeper (Jonathan Funcke). For them to get their wishes fulfilled, they have to eliminate Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West (Minnie Dlamini). The intrepid team of Dorothy, Toto, Scarecrow, Tinman and Lion also encounter Glinda, the Good Witch of the South (Jessica Sole), the deadly poppy field, the mice squad, and winged monkeys on their further adventures.

All the actors and actresses performed these principal roles superbly. Director Themi Venturas certainly brought out the best from the very talented cast. It is perhaps wrong to single out any specific members of the cast but Scarecrow, Tinman, Lion, The Wiz and Evillene really do deserve special mention for their excellent performances. Also of particular note is the singing (vocal director Charon Williams Ros) and dancing by the whole cast. It really is a very professional production. Besides the excellent ensemble dancing (choreographer Janet Hare), the short dance sequence by the Crows (Musa Ndelu, Denny Khumolo, Lungisani Madlala, Siyabonga Mvelase, Cosmos Gumbi and Sifiso Sikhakhane) after carrying the Scarecrow onto the stage is brilliant.

True to the tradition of these shows, each year they invite a professional singer/actor to take part in the show to set a higher standard to which the youth can aspire. This year it is Pume Zondi in the very small role of Aunt Em. Her husband, Uncle Henry (Musa Ndelu) doubled as one of the Crows.

Peter Court’s set design is very modern and most effective, especially in the tornado scene, as befits the show and full marks to him for the costume design. A live band always contributes to the success of a show and this production under the musical direction of Dawn Selby is no exception.

There was a large contingent of children in the audience who loved the show. The Wiz is indeed suitable for children of all ages and really well worth. It runs at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre until July 23 with performances Wednesday to Saturday at 19h00 with extra shows at 14h00 on Saturday and Sundays. Tickets R65 (R45 for children, students and pensioners). Booking is at Computicket. – Maurice Kort




 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart